Candice Landau • May 28, 2019
Of the many things I have learned recently, “The Law of Contraction” is perhaps the most useful and the most easy for companies and individuals to implement immediately. It’s the law of building and maintaining a memorable and successful brand.
According to Al and Laura Ries, authors of “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” the law is as follows:
A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus.
What does this mean?
Well, for starters, it means disregarding what your competition is doing. The fact that the brewery next door to you is releasing new beers at an exponential rate does not mean it is doing well. In fact, those companies who keep plugging along producing the same couple of drinks year after year are often the ones who do best as they become known for that specific thing. In contrast, the other company dilutes their brand. Where they once made only dry-hopped IPAs and dominated that market, now they make the full range of beers. They even have a cider too. They’ve become generic. That’s the “Law of Expansion” and it’s a one-way ticket to eventually fading into the background.
When you narrow your focus you have a better understanding of who you are, who your audience is, and how your brand is uniquely positioned to compete. It’s also that much easier to remain memorable and to hone in on the focused messages you want to send.
The law of contraction is a filter through which all ideas can be passed.
When I set out to build myself a new website to market my services, my immediate inclination was to show the diversity of my skill set. While I am an experienced writer with a knack for storytelling, I also wanted to let people know that I could do pretty darn competent WordPress website development, that I had a good understanding of SEO, that I’d been doing email marketing for years and that I could put together a mean social media post. Plus, I didn’t want to lose a potential client.
The more I thought about the law of contraction the more I realized that I was paving the way to stand for nothing.
That’s right. To stand for nothing.
While my short term work might increase, my long-term ability to gain a reputation in something specific would be steadily diminishing. I thought about my name coming up in conversation.
“Yeah, that last landing page I had built was by a freelancer I hired, girl called Candice.”
“Oh, interesting, it told a great story. She must be a good writer.”
“Yeah, but she does other stuff. Websites, logos, social media…”
And there it was. Even if just a vision, I went from being “interesting” to nothing. Worse, my writing skills were rapidly downplayed.
I had to go back to the drawing board.
The additional skills I was adding to my site, the extra portfolio examples and the way I was choosing to describe my broad range of skills, would, in the long term, hurt me. And, the generalizations I was using to summarize how awesomely “general” I could be sounded boring.
As much as I hate to admit it, like everyone else, I too have a sweet spot. It’s the written word. I’m a detail-oriented writer and editor with an eye for good content and the potential to imagine it before it even exists.
I once thought that a focus on selling my content marketing skills would limit the projects I could open myself to; I was wrong. My increasing focus on content strategy and content development has helped me better understand how to brand and sell my services. It has also helped me understand how not to package myself.
Hold on. I hear you…
“What’s she doing writing about branding then?”
*Raises hand in a desperate bid to answer the question.*
Well, branding is actually a subset of content marketing. If you don’t know a thing or two about how to brand a business (or yourself) your content marketing isn’t going to be up to snuff. The point is not to stop you from doing other things, but to tell you to give them a wring through the contraction machine. Use it as a filter.
Is this idea for a new service going to dilute my brand? Is the way I’m talking about my business generic?
Only then will you end up with the brand juice you’re looking for.
Don’t take my word for it though. Give it a try yourself.
Would your brand be stronger if you focused on one or two services rather than 10? Would you have an edge in a specific market? Would it help you understand how to package yourself or your product?